ANAHEIM -- The Angels have now tried almost everything to get Josh Hamilton going at the plate. They've batted him fifth against a left-hander, batted him fifth altogether, and on Saturday, after an 0-for-4, three-strikeout night, manager Mike Scioscia gave him his first day off in hopes that it would "clear some cobwebs out."
"I think he just needs to exhale a little bit," Scioscia said. "Maybe just take that step backwards to get to his goal of swinging the bat the way he can quicker."
Entering Saturday's game against Orioles starter Freddy Garcia, Hamilton sports a .208/.252/.292 slash line, with 37 strikeouts -- the seventh most in the Majors -- in 120 at-bats. The 31-year-old lefty, signed to a five-year, $125 million contract over the offseason, has gone deep only twice through his first 29 games and has swung at the third-highest amount of pitches outside of the strike zone (44.2 percent).
"It's weird," Hamilton said Friday. "How come I don't feel that way? Usually, when I do feel that way, I really am lost, and I feel like I have no clue what's going on. So, I don't know. I'm not going to think about it."
Hamilton has said he feels fine at the plate, unlike other spurts throughout his career when he knows something isn't right. The biggest reason for his struggles, he said before Friday's game, was that he's seeing a lot of off-speed pitches -- the second most in the Majors, per FanGraphs.com -- and he isn't ready to hit the fastballs when they come.
In his first three plate appearances on Friday, Hamilton saw seven consecutive fastballs from Miguel Gonzalez, who doesn't really boast overpowering stuff. He swung through five of them, was late on one for a foul pop-out and took another for a strikeout.
Fastball, curveball, changeup -- right now, Hamilton is struggling with all of them.
"He's just not where he needs to be in the batter's box, that's the bottom line," Scioscia said. "I don't think it's anything about intimidation or anything about a contract. It's about a confidence level, and it's about getting comfortable in the batter's box. And he will."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less